E.coli found in water supply in parts of SW King County

DES MOINES, Wash. -- Thousands of people could be boiling their water for days after E.coli turned up in the water supply for parts of Des Moines and Normandy Park.

The contamination has shut down restaurants, inconvenienced families and affected Des Moines Elementary School.

The health department says E.coli turned-up in the tap water of King County Water District 54 Saturday night, and 5,000 customers in Des Moines and Normandy Park need to boil the water or drink bottled. The bacteria can cause diarrhea and vomiting, and in severe cases can be life threatening in children and older adults.

Des Moines Elementary was open for classes Monday, but will keep the cafeteria closed and serve students sack lunches from outside the area to avoid the clean-up that comes with hot meals. A truckload of water also came to the school Monday morning and will be the kids' sole source of drinking water.

While the school was open Monday, a number of cafes and restaurants were closed Sunday.

"The weekend can kill us. We have to be open," said Jill Pritchard of Scotch and Vine. "We're open seven days a week. Being closed especially on a weekend is something that will be very hard to do."

Troy Powers found out about the contamination from his daughter who saw it on Twitter, and thought the water district should have done more to notify neighbors.

"First they said it was E.coli, and we been drinking the water all day," Powers said. "Made coffee and whatnot. Are we contaminated? Are we going to get sick?"

The health department says the source of the contamination is still a mystery, and they are flushing chlorine through the pipes to run follow-up tests.

In the meantime, convenience stores have seen a run on their bottled water supplies.

"A lot of them came in scared and I guess really bothered by it," said Tom Mu.

The health department needs two clean tests to come back 24-hours apart, so the boil water advisory could be in place until mid-week or longer.

So far there are no reports of anyone getting sick.

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